Monday 12 February 2018

Book review : Hotel on Shadow Lake - Daniela Tully

Whenever I read a really good book, with an intricately crafted, gripping and believable plot, I always wonder how the author managed to come up with the initial idea. Well, it turns out that Hotel on Shadow Lake was inspired by a real-life event - the day that author Daniela Tully’s German grandmother finally received a letter posted by her own twin brother over forty years previously. The letter, a farewell to her and their mother, had been held behind the Berlin Wall and was eventually released to its recipients in 1990, along with thousands of other letters which had been impounded for decades.

Hotel On Shadow Lake tells the story of a similar letter - one whose contents, when finally delivered, result in the greatest love story that heartbreakingly never was. Maya's beloved grandmother Martha went missing 27 years ago and when her body is finally found, in America of all places, just down the road from where Maya was on a year out, Maya is fearful that her grandmother had followed her there for some reason. Troubled by the discovery and needing to find some closure, Maya decides to go to the place of her demise to try to understand how she came to be there. Booking into the mysterious Shadow Lake Hotel, she starts painstakingly unlocking the secrets of what happened to her family during the rise of the Third Reich.

In Nazi Germany, all was UNfair in love and war, not just for the persecuted Jews but also for young Martha - as if witnessing her brother turning into a ruthless, sadistic Nazi thug were not bad enough, she could no longer even enjoy the solace of reading her late father's favourite novels when they were banned and burned and she was forced into trying to become (outwardly at least) a respectable young German woman. Sickened by the brutal Hitlerian regime, she longs to rebel and, against all odds, finds a chance at love that is as dangerous as it is passionate.There weren't many happy endings in Nazi Germany though, and her world comes crashing down - the letter, belatedly received, gives her a second chance at putting things right but, once again, there are vicious people waiting to put spanners in the works and prevent destiny from following its true course.

Martha is a remarkable woman in a horrific period of modern history that is portrayed in a sickeningly realistic and objective way. The author is at pains to create believable, multi-layered characters, so that even Martha's brother is presented as more than just the caricature of a revolting Nazi thug, with inner turmoil that explains if not justifies his behaviour. The connections with the hotel owner's family seemed somewhat contrived, and I found that the added plotline of the mysterious and seemingly paranormal "faceless" man in the woods detracted slightly from the impact of such a realistic novel, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The final denouement, with all of the different threads being neatly tied together and a poignant but slightly happy ending, was very satisfying and perfectly finished off the emotional roller-coaster ride that the novel takes you on.

*** Don't miss out - click here for my giveaway where you can win a copy of Hotel on Shadow Lake ***

This is Daniela Tully’s debut novel and she's definitely a great new talent to keep an eye on.

ISBN (Paperback): 9781787198890
ISBN (Ebook): 9781787198883
Price: £8.99 (Paperback) £5.99 (Ebook)
Extent: 288 pages
Format: 198x129mm
Rights Held: UK & Commonwealth excl CAN

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.


  1. Sounds like a fascinating read, will have to have a look for it

  2. Will have to read this. Love the sound of it


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